Weird Ingredients

Foodie Friday

Aug 26, 2011 by

Here are a few weird ingredients I always have on hand and you should too…

Okay, maybe you don’t need to have them, once you know what they are, but at least let me try to convince you. If you have read my food blogs these past 6 months, you probably know that I don’t cook bland food. Intense flavors with strong ethnic roots dominate my cooking.

I have been known to un-invite someone for dinner at my house when they tell me they like simple food, not too highly flavored. (I suggest we meet somewhere to eat where I pray there will at least be hot sauce!)

I imagine they also have homes with lots of the color Beige.

But I know that is unfair because I know some serious eaters whose environments are primarily neutral and earth tones.

So I’ll admit that my living room has been referred to as the Fruit Salad Room.’ That would be due to the three mango- colored walls, with the fourth one raspberry and a blueberry- colored fireplace in the center of it. Not for the timid in terms of décor. The colors are warm in the winter and cool in the summer and I love them. And they are not for everybody.

But of course I digress.

Here are 3 of my favorite ‘weird’ ingredients:

Pomegranate Molasses – I started using this long before pomegranates achieved their present Foodie status. It is the perfect sweet/sour addition to a dish. This ingredient is central in Fesenjoon, one of the signature dishes in Persian cuisine. It is has ground walnuts and Pomegranate Molasses. There are lots of recipes on the web for it. Talk about addictive! See the recipes below for my favorite salad dressing.

Indian Lime Relish or Pickle – I admit this qualifies as an acquired taste. (But, hey, so does coffee…) Don’t start eating this straight, unless you are entranced by the strong smell. But you can put a few teaspoons of it into things like tuna fish salad, egg salad, and black bean or other bean puree and it gives an undertone of depth and tartness that nobody can identify. Check out the two recipes below for ideas.

Lizano Salsa – I visited the farm of a friend who trains horses to help her teach Leadership to executives and others who want to tap into their own inner authority. I whipped up a great frittata for breakfast and she broke out the Lizano Salsa, a staple on Costa Ricans tables. It is spectacular with eggs, in marinades and soups. Think Mexico meets the Caribbean. I found it online and it was worth the search.

And here are some of the staples I try to have in my pantry: fresh garlic, canned anchovies and anchovy paste, several kinds of hot sauces- Frank’s Original is my favorite- pitted kalamata olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes (Trader Joe’s has freeze dried ones that are flavorful and fat free), marinated artichokes, mustards that include Dijon, grainy, hot and sweet, Feta cheese, good Parmesan or Romano, several kinds of vinegars: balsamic, rice wine, sherry wine, cider; a good array of olive oils and other oils, a selection of salts and a few different kinds of peppers, candied ginger and of course plenty of lemons.

Rebecca’s Favorite Salad Dressing


2 T. Dijon or other specialty mustard (coarse grain, hot/sweet, etc.)

1/3 C. Basalmic Vinegar

1/3 C. Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar

1/3 C. good quality Olive Oil

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

1-2 T. pomegranate syrup


Mix together. Enough for 2 large salads. Store in refrigerator.

Use this on salads that have mixed greens and some combinations of fruit, nuts and cheese. For example:

  • Oranges, kalamata olives, red onions, pine nuts, and crumbled feta
  • Pears, candied walnuts, crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese
  • Apples, pecans or walnuts (toast them in the oven a bit to bring out the flavor) grated sharp cheddar

Tuna salad with Lime Pickle


  • 1 can tuna
  • ¼ cup chopped onion (or more if you like onions)
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1-2T Indian Lime Pickle
  • 1-2T Dijon or other mustard (not yellow)
  • 2-3 T plain yogurt


Mix or pulse all ingredients except tuna in processor. Add tuna and mix or pulse to the consistency you like.

Serve with baked potato with peas, cheese and Lime Pickle

Stuff a baked potato with tiny green peas, a tablespoon of lime pickle and then melt grated cheese on top. You can use a mixture of feta and cheddar or any kind of cheese you like melting.  I mix it all together and it makes me very happy!

Lizano Salsa Marinade for Chicken


2 cloves garlic crushed

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup Lizano Salsa


Marinate chicken pieces for a few hours or overnight.

Bake or grill, basting with the sauce.

I’m always interested in hearing what other people can’t imagine cooking without. Share your favorites and we can swap more recipes!




About the Author

Rebecca Crichton Has Written 40 Articles For Us!

I try to stay aware of one main concept: We see things through different lenses. We get caught in our own belief systems and most of us are pretty attached to being right. I am one of those inveterate Life Long Learners. I like new ideas, new experiences, new people, new challenges.
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